The Best Baby Wipes
The best baby wipes need to be gentle on baby’s skin, but tough enough to stand up to a big mess. We dug into the research and confirmed with a dermatologist on which ingredients to avoid, then put 11 brands to the test on real kids to see which cleaned the most with the fewest wipes.
These textured, cloth-like wipes performed the best, needing half as many for clean-up than some of its competitors. With skin-soothing ingredients like cucumber, chamomile, and organic aloe, they left baby’s skin smooth and clean.
The 3 Best Overall Baby Wipes
Our top pick, Parasol Baby Wipes, are thick, cloth-like wipes that were markedly softer and thicker than the rest we tested. These textured wipes outperformed the other contenders in cleaning ability — we had to use the fewest wipes to get the job done. Turns out a textured surface makes all the difference against messes. Parasol Baby Wipes boast plant-based ingredients like cucumber, chamomile, and organic aloe to sooth skin. We loved the light scent with subtle whiffs of cucumber. These wipes are on the higher end — $0.08 per wipe MSRP, but we needed less than half the amount when compared to the Huggies brand we tested ($0.04 per wipe MSRP) and they didn’t tear coming out of the package.
Our first runner-up, The Honest Company Baby Wipes, narrowly missed the top spot. They rival the Parasol Baby Wipes in cleaning ability and even sport a similar texture. They just weren’t as soft or thick. Their ingredients are similar, too — cucumber and chamomile — but feature masterwort instead of aloe vera. (Masterwort is a skin conditioner, which is similar to aloe, and is also a renewable resource.) Unlike Parasol, these wipes don’t feature a scent, which could be appealing to those who want to avoid it. The cucumber just doesn’t come through. The Honest Company Baby Wipes are on par with Parasol at about $0.07 per wipe MSRP. One other thing of note: Both Parasol and The Honest Company started as online diaper subscription services, though The Honest Company is now sold at multiple retail locations. Parasol Baby Wipes can only be purchased online.
Our other runner up is a familiar eco-friendly name: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes. You’ve probably seen their products on shelves at numerous retail locations. Not as luxuriously soft or thick as our other top picks, these textured wipes cleaned nicely and were surprisingly durable — performing well in our stretch test. At $0.05 per wipe, they’re also a bit cheaper than our other picks, though not by much. They feature skin-soothing ingredients aloe vera and Vitamin E.
How We Found the Best Baby Wipe
We started with 53 products that covered all the popular brands and the best-sellers on Amazon, Diapers.com, and other major retailers. We did not include antibacterial wipes, like Wet Ones, which are meant to kill germs, and are classified differently than baby wipes by the FDA. We also made sure to exclude brands that have been involved in an FDA recall. That cut the Walgreens Well Beginnings brand included in the big Nutek Industries recall in 2014 — when it tested positive for bacteria.
Then, we dug into the ingredients.
We cut wipes that contain alcohol or synthetic fragrance.
Alcohols, particularly simple ones (denatured, ethanol, and isopropyl) or aromatic options (often a benzyl alcohol), can dry out sensitive skin. Not so good in a product used as often on baby’s most tender areas. All the Pampers brands contained potentially drying alcohol, so they were out. We also ditched synthetic fragrance, as opposed to ones derived from natural essential oils. This is because synthetic fragrance can be a source of phthalates, which have been linked to allergic skin reactions.
Dr. Peter Lio, clinical assistant professor of dermatology & pediatrics at Northwestern University and partner at Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago agrees: “Less is more. Although, many may like a pleasant-smelling fragrance, it can be a source of trouble.”
We took a hard look at the rest of the ingredients.
We wanted to go the extra mile to avoid any potentially irritating or harmful ingredients. After all, even if your baby doesn’t have a known skin allergy, you want the safest wipe possible for such a delicate area. “I treat everyone as being ‘sensitive,’ and try to minimize the use of sensitizing chemicals whenever possible as good practice,” says Dr. Lio.
So, we cut the following ingredients:
- Methylisothiazolinone. This common preservative has been linked to cases of contact allergic dermatitis.
- Parabens. The verdict is still out for this preservative. Some have concerns about skin irritation, and more significantly, endocrine disruption, while the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says ultimately, “Parabens are rarely irritating or sensitizing to normal human skin at concentrations used in cosmetics.” However, we weren’t willing to run the risk with baby skin.
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol. This preservative has formaldehyde-releasing properties, and research has also linked it to skin irritation and allergy.
- Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. A preservative that is toxic when inhaled. Babies do like to put things in their mouths, so it seemed best to avoid.
- Phenoxyethanol. Similarly, this common preservative has been known to cause vomiting and diarrhea when consumed. The FDA raised concerns about phenoxyethanol in a nipple cream, which was recalled. Again, we erred on the side of caution. This knocked out Costco’s popular Kirkland Signature wipes.
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. This preservative, included in well-known natural brand Earth’s Best, has been linked to skin allergies.
- Chlorhexidine. An antiseptic used in medical settings that has been linked to skin damage in preemie babies, which eliminated Fresh ‘n Clean wipes.
After eliminating multiple wipes from the same brand (we chose the “sensitive” over “regular” wipes), and those marketed for purposes other than diaper changes, such as hand-and-face wipes, that left us with 11 finalists for hands-on testing.
Next, we hands-on tested each wipe.
We were on the hunt for the wipes that cleaned completely with the fewest wipes possible. That meant a durable option that could stand up to the biggest of messes, but soft enough for baby’s tender skin.
First, we compared the relative size and thickness.
When it comes to baby wipes, size matters. So does structure. You want a large, thick wipe that can withstand a serious mess — think washcloth, not Kleenex. Some brands were noticeably sturdier than others, particularly our top picks from Parasol and The Honest Company. The worst, like the Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Sensitive Wipes, were limp and puny, clinging to themselves as they came out of their containers, forcing us to fling them around one-handed to unfurl. Against a baby’s backside, they would just ball up.
Actual square footage was fairly similar across our finalists, with a few brands, like Aleva and WaterWipes, coming in a bit smaller overall.
Then, we put each wipe through a stretch test.
We pulled each wipe on both ends to see if any would tear, and double-checked which could withstand a one-handed yank from their packaging. We quickly discovered which wipes were more durable. Some straight-up failed. Huggies Simply Clean wipes and the Bembo wipes ripped as we pulled them from their packaging. (If you’ve ever had to change a squirming baby, you know this is beyond frustrating.) Other wipes didn’t tear, but didn’t show impressive toughness, either. The Naty wipes, for instance, were so stretchy that when pulled they became thin and almost see-through, like a piece of taffy.
Lastly, we put them the ultimate challenge: a messy toddler.
To test cleaning ability, we enlisted a very wiggly toddler and a jar of crunchy peanut butter. We let him smear the peanut butter all over his belly (total kid bliss!) and then tested each wipe against the mess, paying close attention to how many wipes it took to get his skin clean.
We used copious amounts of crunchy peanut butter to test cleaning ability.
Some of the softest wipes didn’t stand up to this level of mess. Babyganics, Naty, Jackson Reece, and WaterWipes all took multiple wipes to get the job done. In Aleva’s case, the wipes simply weren’t big enough.
The ones that stood out were noticeably thicker and sported a soft textured surface, which helped make wiping more efficient — meaning we could clean up a mess in less time and with fewer wipes. All of the other wipes we tested (aside from the Huggies) were sans texture and this distinction showed. The textured wipes just cleaned better. The channels of the texture captured much of the mess, leaving the rest of the wipe to take care of the residual — while the smooth wipes just moved the mess around. This meant we needed more wipes for the same job.
Our Picks for the Best Baby Wipes
Parasol is a newcomer to the baby product scene and color us impressed. Launched April of 2016, it’s created a super-thick, cloth-like wipe that pulled ahead of the competition in both durability and performance. When tested against the peanut butter, it took only two wipes to clean up 95 percent of the mess. In comparison, the thinner brands, like Huggies or Bembo, took at least five wipes to get it all clean. The moisture level was also just right for cleansing: The wipes were damp, but not saturated, with a slightly sudsy feel. Baby’s skin was left feeling fresh and smooth with no soapy residue.
The distinctive dot texture amped up the cleaning ability, but we wished the package had a hard plastic opening for locking in freshness.
Parasol baby wipes come in a bright, stylish package with a firm plastic opener that doesn’t tear when it’s being opened or resealed. More importantly, they’re easy to remove with one hand. Each wipe detaches neatly from the others, and doesn’t fold or crumple. There’s a light cucumber scent that adds a bit of freshness without being overpowering. By comparison, the BumBoosa wipes’ herbal scent smelled astringent and after a couple of wipes became overpowering. Parents who don’t like scents or are sensitive to fragrance of any kind, however, may want to avoid these.
Parasol uses multiple natural skin-conditioning ingredients, including natural aloe, chamomile, cucumber, and sucrose cocoate, derived from coconut. This helped give Parasol wipes their luxuriously soft feel. We continued using our finalists over the course of a week on our test toddler (real-life applications, no peanut butter), and each time, we reached for the Parasol wipes first.
The only downside is the cost. These are a bit more expensive at $0.08 per wipe for a 72-wipe package MSRP. If you’re using 500 wipes per month conservatively, then that may be a dealbreaker for some families. They’re also only available online — either through Amazon or direct through its site. Similar to The Honest Company, Parasol does offer a subscription service for both its diapers and wipes — where it ships straight to your door at regular intervals.
These wipes narrowly missed the top spot — they’re lightweight and durable with a similar thickness and texture to the Parasol wipes (those little dots made all the difference in cleaning ability). They just weren’t as luxuriously soft feeling. The Honest Company wipes weren’t quite as moist either, and didn’t have that sudsy feel we got from the Parasol wipes. They were easy to remove from a package with one hand, and their sturdy plastic opening clicks shut for extra security and freshness — one nice perk that sets them apart from Parasol.
These wipes have a nearly identical texture to the Parasol Baby Wipes, but we liked the sturdy plastic opening of The Honest Company Baby Wipes more.
These wipes contain similar natural ingredients (cucumber and chamomile), but surprisingly no aloe vera — this popular skin conditioner was found in all but four of our finalists. Instead these wipes use masterwort, which is known for its skin-soothing properties. It’s also a natural, renewable resource.
The wipes cost about the same as Parasol’s at around $0.07 per wipe for a 72-wipe pack MSRP (you can buy the four-pack, which gives you 288 wipes, but there’s no significant per-wipe cost savings for buying in bulk). The premier diaper subscription service, The Honest Company has expanded its lineup to include other baby essentials: personal care, cleaning, and even vitamins.
Note that the Honesty Company recently issued a voluntary recall of some wipes due to mold spotting. The company states that this is an aesthetic concern only, not a health hazard, but if you’ve recently purchased Honest Company wipes, you can visit their website for a list of affected lot numbers.
Unlike Parasol and The Honest Company baby wipes, the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes relies only on aloe vera and vitamin E to help condition skin — no additional soothing herbal or flower extracts. They aren’t as soft or thick as our two top picks, but were noticeably durable. In our stretch test, the material hardly budged when we pulled on them firmly. The cute duck-themed texture did prove out with better cleaning ability than the non-textured wipes, but not nearly as well as the distinctive dot texture of our other top picks.
These were also easy to pull from the package, while holding a peanut butter-covered kid with the opposite hand. The Free & Clear Wipes barely have a scent, only a faint soapy smell upon deep inhale. And, let’s be honest: You’re not going to put these that close to your face.
The cute, duck-themed texture helped with cleaning ability, but didn’t outshine the signature dots of our other top picks.
Among our top contenders, these wipes were the second-lowest cost per wipe at about $0.05 per wipe for a 64-wipe pack. The least expensive option, Huggies Simply Clean Baby Wipes, tore easily and were only one cent cheaper.
Other Baby Wipes to Consider
These wipes are as simple as it gets: just water and grapefruit seed extract. Which is why Dr. Lio recommends them for babies with true skin allergies or conditions like eczema. The wipes were extremely soft, but were a bit small and thin for messy jobs. And, they didn’t pull out of the package easily, which was irritating. We liked them for cleaning runny noses and sticky hands, though — a nice option for quick on-the-go cleanups.
Of note: These wipes have no preservatives, so they have been known to grow mold after being opened. It’s a good idea to keep these in a cool environment (no wipe warmers!) and make note of when you opened them.
The WaterWipes were too small and smooth for diaper changes, but work great for simple on-the-go cleanups.
Did You Know?
Your baby will help you determine the right wipe.
You’ll know if a certain wipe is a good fit for your baby if they continue to have healthy, smooth skin. Diaper rash happens on occasion, of course, but a true allergy would result in recurring symptoms that don’t go away on their own. These symptoms include redness, irritation, itching, burning, bumps, and in more severe cases, actual blisters or sores. If you spot any of these, consult with your pediatrician.
What should eco-conscious parents look for?
No baby wipe is certified organic, though it might contain organic ingredients. Our top pick contains organic aloe, for example. Wipes not manufactured with plastic fibers are also biodegradable. Among our finalists, the Jackson Reece Herbal Baby Wipes are both biodegradable and compostable. We didn’t find them as effective for cleaning as our top picks, but for parents who want to go green, these wipes are worth a look.